Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP3585

Sent by:
James Brooke
Sent to:
Henry Norton Shaw
24 December 1858

Sent by James Brooke, Godstone to Henry Norton Shaw, [Royal Geographical Society, 15 Whitehall Place, London] on 24 December 1858.

Record created:
19 December 2011 by Catchpole, Caroline


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP3585.3484)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Royal Geographical Society
Finding number:
RGS Corr. Block CB4 1851-60 JAMES BROOKE
Copyright owner:
ęBrooke Heritage Trust

Physical description

Transcription information





24 Dec[embe]r 1858

My dear Sir

Thanks for the manuscripts which I return herewith --

It is interesting [1 word illeg.] is a low country [2 words illeg.] collecting well calculated for lowland [1 word illeg.] -- Sarawak strangely [1 word illeg.] with it -- [[2]] Wallace misses the cause of slow progressive state of increase amongst the Dayaks2[.] The tendency to extinction with this race as with all others is breeding in and in -- fustigation by [1 word illeg.] of intercourse might cure this evil -- and a martial on marauding spirits -- [[3]] -- rapes of the Sabines3.

[1 word illeg.] would do it -- the step forward would do it -- thanks for your good wishes -- I am quite cheery but a man should regard the signs of death as well as of weather and as coolly -- Yours my dear Sir

very faithfully, | J Brooke4 [signature]

Dr. Norton Shaw5



1. A seal with the motto "Dum spiro spero" (Lat. While I breathe I hope) is printed in the centre at the top of the page. This was the motto for the Kingdom of Sarawak a state in Borneo established by Sir James Brooke in 1841 and part of the Malay Archipelago (see Endnote 4).

2. The Dayak are the native people of Borneo, comprising over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture.

3. The Rape is supposed to have occurred in the early history of Rome. Seeking wives in order to found families, the Romans negotiated unsuccessfully with the Sabines who populated the area. Fearing the emergence of a rival society, the Sabine men refused to allow their women to marry the Romans. Consequently, the Romans planned to abduct Sabine women during a festival. The abductees were soon implored by Romulus to accept Roman husbands. The author presumably cites the episode as a solution to the inbreeding responsible for the decline of the Dayaks.

4. Brooke, James (1803-1868). British adventurer born in India and served in the Bengal Army. After resigning his commission he bought a ship and sailed out to the Malay Archipelago, where by helping to crush a rebellion, he restored the Sultan of Brunei to his throne, for which he was made the Rajah of Sarawak. He ruled until his death. Among his achievements was to attract ARW to the Archipelago, leading to his eight-year expedition and his book The Malay Archipelago.

5. Shaw, H. Norton (No dates available) Physician and surgeon, assistant secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, responsible for publication of explorers’ reports in the annual Journal of the Royal Geographical Society.

6. The page is blank. "1859" is written in ink in the top RH corner. The "9" is struck through in pencil and "8" (a correction), written alongside, followed by "Dec.24." also in pencil. Beneath "Sir James Brooke" and on the line below below "Rec: Jan[uar]y 3" are written in ink.

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.